Author: mazels2014

Early Connections Virtual Conference

You’re invited!

 

Join us for a week-long program June 22-26, 2020 where you can stream inspiring ideas, conversation and more from our presenters right to your home. This free event is designed for parents of children with visual impairment birth to 7 years old, their families and the professionals who support them.

 

Watch an inspiring keynote and view pre-recorded sessions anytime during the week on topics such as:

 

All About Switches- Explore activities using simple “cause & effect” technology – switches – to activate a toy, access an iPad or interact with a computer.

 

Expanding Your Child’s Potential for Visual Improvement (CVI)- For children with Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment, learn how a vision assessment and the right supports can foster vision improvement.

 

Technology at your Fingertips– Explore the technology available for children with visual impairment and multi-sensory needs while learning your rights for getting your child assessed and equipped with the right tools.

 

And more…

 

Make sure to register to gain access to an inspiring keynote from parent and TVI Burju Sari and plan on joining us for several ‘live’ Q&A sessions with leading experts from Perkins who can respond to questions you and other parents are asking.

As we are pivoting to a virtual event, this year’s Early Connections Conference will be offered at no cost, and we have refunded the registration fee for anyone who has already paid.

 

Register now https://www.perkins.org/get-involved/events/early-connections

to reserve your spot and receive event updates and live conference links via email. Please feel free to share this information with other families who would benefit from the opportunity to learn and connect. If you’d be interested in making a donation to Perkins, we’d be grateful.

 

 

Color for Object Recognition

We know that CVI is a problem of visual attention and visual recognition. So many children at all severity levels of CVI rely on color to find things in complex scenes, at distance and to identify objects. Check out this article that explains why color is a support for all of us to identify objects in the world around us.

https://pure.mpg.de/rest/items/item_1468179_8/component/file_1468180/content

 

Staying at Home: Cook with Your Child

As we think about engaging and learning while at home, cooking provides a multitude of multisensory learning opportunities. Pick one food that your child loves and create an opportunity to cook that food repeatedly throughout the week. Pick a quieter time and quieter place for this activity for optimal visual abilities. Create a non-complex surface with increased spacing of materials. Block distracting light and movement around the activity. This can be a long or very short activity.

Some simple favorites:

  • Koolaid
  • Eggs
  • Smoothies
  • Nachos
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwiches
  • Chex mix
  • Ice cream sundaes
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • Pre-packaged Mac and Cheese
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Pizza

Let’s think about what this one activity provides our students with CVI:

Visual Benefits: Remember to engage visual skills at all times. Tell your child what they will see. Show the item to the child without talking. Describe the visual features of the item. Show again without talking. Allow tactile exploration.

  • That repeated visual opportunity will provide visual prediction that your child needs to develop visual recognition of the foods, the packaging, the utensils and the storage containers that are regularly and consistently seen.
  • Thinking about the support of color, picking packages, utensils and containers of very different colors will help the child discriminate and recognize each based on color.
  • That will allow you to describe the visual features: what the food, packaging, utensils and the containers look like.
  • Repetition provides opportunities to develop visual memories.
  • The movement of the cooking sequence draws and helps maintain visual attention.
  • Using these real materials will allow exploration of the different visual perspectives of the visual materials.

Compensatory Skills Benefits:

  • Activities engage visual, auditory, olfactory, taste and tactile senses; all of which support visual recognition skills.

Language Benefits:

  • Creating foods provides opportunities to develop sequencing and following directions.
  • Provides opportunities to use position words: “on top of”, “add to”, “in/out”.
  • Provides opportunities to use attribute words for the visual aspects and tactile aspects of the foods.
  • Provides opportunities to use cooking vocabulary: “mix”, “fold”, “stir”, “beat”, “add”.

Cognitive Benefits

  • Provides opportunities to use concepts: hot/cold
  • Provides opportunities to use concepts: more/less
  • Provides opportunities to use concepts of attributes: big/little, long/short, curved/straight
  • Provides opportunities to use concepts of the appropriate storage of foods (those stored in the cabinets, refrigerator, freezer).
  • Provides opportunities to understand the properties of liquids and solids
  • Provides opportunities to use for grouping and categorizing
  • Provides opportunities to understand parts to whole: sliced banana vs. the whole banana.
  • Provides opportunities to for food handling: peeling, cracking

Reading Benefits Reading in print, Braille, symbols, pictures

  • Provides opportunities to for reading in print, Braille, symbols, pictures
  • Provides opportunities to create lists of things to buy to get ingredients
  • Provides opportunities for reading and following directions of the recipes

Mathematics Benefits:

  • Provides opportunities to for measuring and weighing
  • Provides opportunities to understand one to one correspondence
  • Provides opportunities to understand time concepts
  • Provides opportunities to understand temperatures
  • Provides opportunities to understand size concepts
  • Provides opportunities to count
  • Provides opportunities to cut into foods into factions
  • Provides opportunities to fill and dump
  • Provides opportunities to understand portions

Science Benefits

  • Provides opportunities to experience cause and effect
  • Provides opportunities to use chemistry
  • Provides opportunities to understand how foods are different in form: milks require pouring while mayonnaise requires scooping
  • Provides opportunities to understand how heating and freezing impacts foods
  • Provides opportunities to use force for cutting, separating

Social Benefit

  • Provides opportunities for sharing
  • Provides opportunities for cooperating

Motor Benefits

  • Provides opportunities for opening and closing containers
  • Provides opportunities for holding heavy and light materials
  • Provides opportunities to use two hands together
  • Provides opportunities for stirring different textures with different tools
  • Provides opportunities to use pouring, scooping, kneading

Advocacy Benefits

  • Provides opportunities to plan
  • Provides opportunities to make choices.

Career Benefits

  • Provides opportunities to sort needed ingredients and tools
  • Provides opportunities for cleaning needed tools
  • Provides opportunities to set up for completing a task

Technology Benefits

  • Provides opportunities to use recipes on iPads
  • Provides opportunities to use blenders, mixers and other kitchen equipment
  • Provides opportunities to use the oven, the microwave and to use stovetops

Even if your child is not eating foods, participating in tube formula feeding is also an opportunity for many of these same learning experiences.

Each activity can be easily adapted for the various functioning abilities for each child. Some will be independent with supervision and some might require hand under hand support for participation. Touching, looking at, pushing something into a container is all participation. All levels of abilities can be engaged and learning fruitful for all!

Want more? You can use these to follow up after your cooking. Use again and again!

  • Take pictures and make a Powerpoint book of the ingredients or process
  • Find a Youtube of a character making the same food. Follow up your activity with this literacy material: Here is one about making pizza https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gX2vQNNC80c
  • Make a recipe book
  • Make a symbols book for the utensils

Conversations about CVI: John Ravenscroft with Dr. Roman

Turn in to this webinar organized by Dr. John Ravenscroft as he interviews Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy. This is a fantastic conversation about Dr. Roman’s journey learning about CVI since the 1970s. She shares her passion that led to the development of the CVI Range. If you know her, your know her work begins and continues with parent information.

Enjoy!

Take a Seat!

Watch your children with CVI move to get into a chair. So often I see this done tactilely. They turn and backup slowly until they feel the chair seat against the back of their legs. I believe this is due to the difficulties judging distance, the visual complexity of this task and visual motor difficulties.

I have had great luck working with the PT and OT to help children understand where the chair is in space and how to move their body into the seated position.

Here is one example. Just by placing red tape on one arm of the modified toilet we could teach the child to find the highlighted armrest of the chair, cross midline, hold the red highlighted area to stabilize their body and to turn to sit. As they improved their skills, we were able to reduce the size of the color highlighting and finally remove it. This provided safe and more independent toileting.

 

 

Reading for a Child with CVI

Please watch these important webinars about teaching reading to children with CVI. Pay especially close attention to the fact that the methods are not uniform. They are in consideration of the visual behaviors of CVI of individual children. No reading approach is for every child. That “visual brain” and that “reading brain” are different in every single child.

The first webinar is by a parent of a child with hemianopsia, Monika Jones of the Brain Recovery Project. Although the webinar is not about reading specifically, there are some important considerations for reading presented. Those reading considerations match the visual abilities of the children with CVI impacted by this brain based visual impairment.

https://www.perkinselearning.org/earn-credits/self-paced/vision-after-occipital-lobectomy-and-related-surgeries

The next two webinars are by Judy Endicott. Judy is the grandmother of a child with CVI. Using her expertise in reading and her building understanding of CVI, Judy embarked on a journey to teach her grandson to read. What I love is that Judy was wonderfully diagnostic of her grandson’s abilities and needs.  Her approach to teaching reading followed her grandson’s lead.  She developed each step in the reading journey based on his successes and difficulties. If something didn’t work, she moved on to try something else in partnership with her grandson. Like any great teacher, she has understanding of the different developmental levels of learning, how the child with a neuro-typical brain learns, and that all learners have individual abilities that require instruction matched to those abilities and needs.

Part 1:

https://www.perkinselearning.org/videos/webinar/our-cvi-literacy-journey-phase-iii

Part 2:

https://www.perkinselearning.org/videos/webinar/our-cvi-literacy-journey-phase-iii-part-2

Mirror Neurons and Incidental Learning

Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran created this Ted Talk to discuss mirror neurons. Mirror neuron’s role in the brain was recently discovered and research about the function of mirror neurons continues. As Dr. Ramachandran mentions in his talk, he believes mirror neuron use is one of the foundations of human interactions and cultural growth.

Mirror neurons, activated by visual observation, allow us to imitate and practice observed actions and to take the perspective of another person as they operate in the world. I couldn’t help but think of mirror neurons in the context of CVI and visual impairments.

For children with CVI, that lack of essential visual access would make mirror neurons function impossible and this must impact the development of all skills and knowledge, all imitation and the development of all social skills. The role of mirror neurons, it seems, is essentially intertwined with incidental learning and perspective taking, the basis of social skills.

A vast amount of information that a child learns about the world is through this visual incidental learning. If I watch a person eating, I am learning through visual skills alone, how people eat. I know the position for eating, the social skills of eating, and the tools used for eating. My brain, using mirror neurons, is practicing eating long before I ever use a spoon myself. I am exposed to this kind of incidental knowledge all my waking hours from birth and I am learning without being directly instructed.

After watching this Ted Talk, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this not support the need for careful evaluation of what children with CVI really understand and how they understand it?
  • Does this not caution us to think about why children with CVI might struggle with imitation and pretend play? (and caution us to be careful to never use this imitation and pretend play criteria for cognitive assessment)
  • Does this not justify all direct instruction to students with CVI?
  • Does this not justify the repeated need to practice all skills directly taught?
  • Does this not justify the Expanded Core Curriculum for students with CVI?
  • Does this not justify a TVI who understands visual inaccessibility on a child’s educational team?

https://www.ted.com/talks/vilayanur_ramachandran_the_neurons_that_shaped_civilization?referrer=playlist-how_your_brain_constructs_real

Valuable CVI Awareness of “Mistakes”

Awareness of the unique visual behaviors of CVI can provide teachers, parents and other service providers with context and understanding when learners with CVI make “mistakes”. I put “mistakes” in quotes because the “mistakes” that learners make will always allow us to understand their visual perception of their world if we consider them in the context of CVI. Matt Tietjen’s What’s the Complexity Perkins Elearning online class helped me to think more deeply about these visual “mistakes”.

Images in literacy materials in the community and at school are supposed to add information that supports the text or the situation.

This map symbol confused rather than supported my student’s understanding.

Seeing this icon on a subway wall, my student asked why there was a picture of a purse on the wall. This allowed me to understand the inaccessibility of this highly symbolic image of this map icon. It helped me understand how the student completely missed details in this image. It helped me understand how my student only really understood the shape of this square image and because he visually understands that purses are square shapes, he mistook this for a purse. “Why was a purse on this wall?”  “Am I missing something?” he wondered aloud.

Seeing this icon in a library book, another student identified it as a “flower”

Once again, the highly symbolic image was not understood. The student only perceived the shape not the meaning that the icon was supposed to provide. The “mistake” was made due to the impact of CVI on the student’s functional vision. The “mistake” helped remind me of the inaccessibility of highly symbolic images and helped me to remind me to always ask Matt’s question “What do you see?”

These two students can verbally communicate through their “mistakes” to help me understand how they see the world.

For our students with non-traditional language, we need to also diagnostically consider their “mistakes”.

In an assessment, it was clear that another student who is using a communication device understood the green “yes” symbol and the red “no” symbol when answering questions regardless of where the symbols appeared on the device page of 6 symbols.

I swapped out the red and green symbols for completely different symbols that were also colored green and red. The student continued to answer questions “yes” and “no” by hitting the “wrong” symbols based on color seemly with no awareness of the icon’s details and icon’s shape information.

 

  

 

 

 

 

It was so important for me and for her speech therapist to understand the reliance on color when using the device so color is considered when adding any newer icons.

“Mistakes” are a window into how student understand their world and how they function in their world. Without understanding CVI, these mistakes could be thought of as cognitive lack of understanding rather than the reality of visual inaccessibility.

NEI Seeks Input on Strategic Plan: Make CVI a Priority Area

Take a minute to have your voice heard! Please act today! Tomorrow is the last day!

NEI Seeks Input on Strategic Plan

On November 22, 2019, the National Eye Institute (NEI) issued a Request for Information regarding its Strategic Plan, entitled 2020 Vision for the Future, with a response date of January 8, 2020. Building upon its last Plan issued in 2012, NEI seeks broad input from researchers, clinicians, patients, vision advocates, and the public regarding research needs, opportunities, and areas for emphasis in the next five years––including needs and gaps in research, health, and quality of life. NEI has proposed seven cross-cutting areas of emphasis to foster input, including Genes, Neuroscience, Immune System and the Eye, Regenerative Medicine, Data Science, Individual Quality of Life, and Public Health and Disparities Research.

Parents: share personal stories, and the stating potential impact of increased research on care, quality of life, and well-being of children with CVI.

Clinicians/Scientists: identifying gaps of knowledge such as establishing clear diagnostic assessments and understanding underlying causes, prognosis, risk factors, and development of intervention strategies. Establishing a national data base would be critical for this condition.

Teachers, Early Interventionists, & Related Staff: development of informed practices relating to intervention and (re)habilitation of individuals with CVI.  

Please use the term cerebral/cortical visual impairment (CVI) in your response. There are indeed other possible terms to consider, but it is crucial that the NEI gets as many hits for “CVI” as possible so that they consider this as a single area of focus.

Click on the following link to access NEI’s request, which includes a response section:  https://www.nei.nih.gov/form/rfi